A Lebanese-American Journalist Reflects on the Arab Spring: Anthony Shadid

Veteran war correspondent Anthony Shadid spent much of the past decade in Baghdad covering the Iraq war, first for The Washington Post and then for The New York Times. Last December, Shadid left Baghdad for his home in Beirut, Lebanon, where he’s been based for more than a decade.

“It was amazing to me how many conversations I was having with people about how dejected they were, how disappointed, how pessimistic they were about where the Arab world was,” he tellsFresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “… And so remarkably, just a week or two later, the uprising began in Tunisia.”

Shadid reported from Tunisia and then from the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain. He says 2011 has been one of the most unbelievable years he ever could have imagined experiencing in the Middle East region.

“I think back to this idea that a generation ago, the Iranian revolution was this event that changed the Middle East,” he says. “And we’re [talking about] six revolts or revolutions or uprisings all happening, in a lot of respects, at the very same time.”

Shadid says the euphoria felt in places like Tunisia and Egypt throughout the spring has now passed.

“I think there’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty of where we’re headed,” he says. “I guess after being a pessimist in Baghdad for so long, I remain an optimist. I think that optimism comes from this idea that these societies — that have been moribund for so long — have been revived or rejuvenated. … And that very dynamism of those societies leaves hope for the future.”


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